It takes some time to figure out how to make the best use of the time and money invested in charity. Here are a few (Canada-specific) things I learned.
When I saw this person building a Raspberry Pi inside a vintage Apple Keyboard, I thought it could be a comfortable way to play Apple II games on a TV. More important, I happen to have an Apple Extended Keyboard II just waiting for such an experiment…
My winter holiday plans did not include going outside, so I wanted to build it with parts I already had. But the hack uses an Arduino Pro Micro (with a little help of the TMK Keyboard Firmware Collection) as a converter between ADB (the interface used by the Apple IIGS and older Macs) and the familiar USB, and I only had a regular Arduino (actually, a Leonardo-compatible clone).
I wasn’t sure that would do the job, so before tearing the keyboard apart, I decided that my first experiment would be an attempt to connect it to my computer.
Earlier this year I was looking for an app that showed predictions for Toronto streetcars/buses on my Pebble smartwatch. To my surprise, I could not find a single one that worked the way I expected it to (or that worked at all, to be honest), so I decided to build my own.
Little did I know that getting fast and reliable predictions on my wrist wasn’t just a matter of writing C code on the watch - it also required code running on the phone and on a server. Totaly worth it: I use Toronto Transit Time almost daily - and I’m not the only one.
This insight of the development process was originally intended to become a presentation for the likes of PebbleTO, but given the uncertain future of Pebble (recently acquired by FitBit), I decided to just publish it here as a supplement to the application’s source code.
Our Wii U Gamepad’s analog stick was intermittently failing to register, causing frustration right when I most needed fun and happiness. Recalibration didn’t help, and a new Gamepad would be expensive, so I tested my luck by replacing the analog stick with an aftermarket one.
It isn’t a super complex operation, but the components are quite delicate, requiring gentleness and attention. As usual, here is what I learned (and some tips):
The thing I miss the most from my adventures in Japan was, mind you, the toilets.
Seriously, their cans are advanced enough to deserve their own Wikipedia entry and numerous media reports. Once you get your inner self properly cleaned by one of those beauties, traditional wiping won’t do it anymore. I had to get one at home. But how?
The first-generation Pebble (now dubbed Pebble Classic) is, in my opinion, the best smartwatch in terms of cost/benefit. Unfortunately, a few of them start to manifest screen tearing after a few months of use, and mine was one of the “lucky” ones:
At first, I thought it was a software issue, but the actual cause is that the screen connector does not cope well with the frequent vibration alerts. Such connectors are usually hard to fix/replace, but the gentleman on the video below realized that some pressure over the connector solved the issue. His ingenious choice of padding material caught my eye: small pieces of toilet paper!
Despite living in Canada for three years now, I didn’t travel much outside the Great Toronto Area. My job at VarageSale and Vanessa’s at Shopify granted us a fair share of trips to their respective Montreal and Ottawa offices, but that still limits one’s mental map to Central Canada.
As part of my current sabbatical, I decided to learn more about my new country, so I joined Vanessa on a 6-day plane trip to the east, then got plane tickets to Saskatoon and from Vancouver with nine days between them, forcing myself to figure out a bus/train path connecting the dots.
Here are the cities I visited (all links are photo albums), followed by a wrap-up on each one:
Last weekend brought an interesting challenge: to create a remote-controlled, small-sized dry ice “fog” dispenser for a company event. In the end it wasn’t used, but I had a lot of fun building it anyway. Here is how it was done:
Judging by how much of my life I spent reading manga, watching anime and tokusastu, playing Pokémon on Nintendo, eating tempura, yakisoba and mochi, learning kanji, and so on, it just had to happen: Bani and I went to Japan!
After a daunting half-day flight and timezone shift, we spent a couple days in Osaka, followed by a 9-day travel package that took us to Koyasan, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Hakone, and finally Tokyo - where we had five more days of hectic fun.
Our adventures included a sleepover on a Buddhist monastery, volcano-boiled eggs, giant robots, purification rituals, a deer-populated sacred island, bullet trains, psychedelic dances, a manga museum and - why not - ear channel violation.